I used to have a cutout from a magazine that read “Plants You Can’t Kill” on my fridge. It felt like a good bar to set for myself.
After a few years, I threw it away because I hadn’t bought a plant and it never really crossed my mind to have one inside. I didn’t grow up with plants in the house. We had trees, bushes and flowers outside the house, but never anything inside the house.
Years ago, my friend, Judith, who I think of as my own personal buddha recommended I buy myself flowers from time to time to make myself feel good. It had never occurred to me to do that.
The only time I bought myself flowers was when I played a trick on the women in my office in San Francisco. They were a bunch of yentas in their 20s and 30s who were always oversharing details about their personal lives. It was a small open space office of about 12 people making it impossible to avoid their conversations.
Despite their countless attempts to get me to spill my guts, I’d never divulge anything. I wasn’t dating anyone at the time so I had nothing to share and even if I did, they wouldn’t be my audience. They weren’t my people.
Instead, I’d sit at my desk rolling my eyes as they went on and on about what their boyfriends did or didn’t do and tried to focus on my work.
Then, one day I decided to mess with these women.
I went out for lunch and when I returned, there were flowers waiting for me at my desk. Magenta Gerbera daisies that I had sent myself with a card signed by my bogus boyfriend whose name was a dead giveaway.
As I approached my desk and feigned surprise, I could see the women’s heads perk up from their desks like a Whack-a-Mole game. My cubemate who went by one name, Mila*, stopped her annoying habit of singing and snapping to no music, whipped her chair around and started interrogating me.
“Who sent you the flowers?” she asked before I had even opened the envelope.
“Oh, I don’t know,” I responded coyly. Then, I pulled out the card pretending to be tickled by the sweet message that my fictitious suitor had written me.
“Well, he obviously knows you like pink because he sent you pink flowers AND you’ve got pink in your sweater,” she said proud of her detective work.
I thought to myself, “Look, Nancy Drew, I’m actually not a pink girl. These are magenta, but please… go on.”
“And you know what that means?” she said.
“Ooooh, I can’t wait,” I thought.
“He obviously saw you get dressed and leave for work this morning,” she said leaning back in her chair very satisfied with herself.
“Oh, this is rich,” I thought to myself.
“Maybe,” I said pretending to blush.
“And now the flowers match the pink in your cheeks!” she exclaimed.
“Oh, I don’t know,” I said frazzled pretending to be embarrassed. “I need to go. I have an interview with a candidate.”
I tucked the card back into the envelope and scurried off to my meeting knowing full well that within mere seconds, the herd would flock to my cube, pepper Mila with questions and read the card.
Their sleuthing work would be done, but the joke would be on them when they saw who signed the card.
An hour later, I returned to my desk watching the women peek their heads up over their cubes like a pack of meerkats. I sat down and waited for them to rush over to probe me.
Mila was busy snapping and singing to no music and all I heard was the clickety clacking of my co-workers typing on their computers. No one said a word.
That meant only one thing.
They had no idea who my fictitious boyfriend was.
The card read:
“Robin, thanks for a great night. I can’t wait to see you again.
I knew they wouldn’t have a clue who he was because my imaginary boyfriend happened to have the same name as Jan Brady’s imaginary boyfriend. A name she had cleverly made up on the spot when her mom told her she shouldn’t feel bad about not having a boyfriend.
Only my lie didn’t backfire on me like it did for Jan. My masterplan worked. The women never asked me about my dating life again. They stayed focused on theirs.
And I learned what I knew all along. They weren’t my people. Jan was and I was okay with that.
P.S. I did buy flowers for myself yesterday as part of my 30-day self-care challenge. I also got a shot at the doctor, and while technically, that’s self-care, it’s more obligatory and way less fun.
Have you ever sent flowers to yourself? Played a prank on someone? Identified with Jan Brady? Do you have plants in your home? Got any tips for me on plants I can’t kill? Tell me below.
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.